By; VITALIS UGOH, Calabar
Former Senate Leader and the immediate past chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Distinguished Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, has sued for a stable and cohesive 9th National Assembly to stabilize the over heated national polity and usher in rapid development across the country.
Ndoma-Egba made the call in Calabar while answering questions from newsmen in his residence .
He said “i will start with a wish and that wish is that we see a stable and cohesive National Assembly. Stable not in the sense that they pander unduly to the executive but stable in the sense that at least they are consistent with their positions on the relation between the legislation and development because the two must go together”.
According to him “the legislature must work with the executive to deliver on policies and programmes. So one is hoping and wishing that we see a stable national assembly and we see a national assembly that comes up with a legislative agenda that it would follow very strictly to drive its next four years. My biggest hope and wish for them is stability”.
On the tussle for leadership, he said, “it is a bit tricky getting the contest going on now for the leadership within any paradigm. It is a bit tricky. But what I would say is that if you look at the national assembly from 1999 whenever a leadership appears to have been foisted on the National Assembly from outside, the consequence is instability. The converse has also been the case. The moment they believe that a leadership is homegrown and internally generated, you will see stability. Whichever way the party in power is approaching it, it must ensure that it does not create the impression that it is foisting its leadership on the national assembly”.
The ruling party, he added, “must approach the issue of leadership in such a manner that the National Assembly itself takes over its thinking on the leadership and drive the process as an internally generated process. If it appears that they are being foisted then we have lost it. Instability would be the consequence”.
Also speaking on rejected Bills by Mr. President, he said, this is not the first time bills have been passed and not signed. If you look from 1999 most members’ bills were never signed into law. Those that were signed into law were very few. In our time, the one that I recalled “is the freedom of information bill and the anti-same sex marriage bills. The executive has always been interested in executive bills. The National Assembly must find a way of engaging the executive to also see that members’ bills are also as important as the executive bills. So what you are seeing now is not something that is new. It is something that has happened from 1999”.
Speaking on the recent development in Zamfara state, the Senate Leader, said that “there is no law that says the majority party must produce the leadership of the National Assembly. It is only when it comes to Senate Leader and House Leader that the house rules says it must come from the party with the majority”.
According to him, “the membership of the National Assembly can decide that they want a senate president from a party with one member. It is their right and entitlement. Nothing stops them. It is all politics”.
Explaining furthermore on Zamfara issue, he said, ” I have not seen the judgment. I did not see the matter in such details as to know what the detailed facts of the case were. But let me say that the moment the Supreme Court pronounces on a matter that is final. The Supreme Court is always right because it is final. It is not final because it is always right. The moment is has pronounced on a matter that is the end of the matter and you must concede that they are right at that point. For me, as I said I cannot comment on the judgment because I have not seen it, what we see are summaries in the media and of course the media, would give it their own slant, but one lesson important from the Zamfara issue and it is not just a lesson for the APC, it is a lesson for all political parties is that impunity has its limits in a democracy”.
Secondly, he added “undergoing our constitution, we do not have provision for independent candidates. So every candidate must run on the platform of a political party. That means it is the parties drive our democracy.
“Now if you do not have internal democracy, you cannot give democracy to the rest of the country. So the biggest lesson from the Zamfara judgment, and I think at the end of the day it is going to be the most beneficial judgment for all political parties is that we must learn that impunity has its limits and that secondly, for us to grow as a democracy, the political parties must ensure internal democracy. That is the biggest lesson”.
He however advised Senator Lawan and Ndume to note that no matter the thought of the ruling party, those thoughts must be appropriated by the membership of the national assembly and owned by the national assembly. It must appear as their own internally generated thinking on the leadership. For as long as it remains that, it appears that a leadership is being foisted from outside, it would generate instability”.
He further advised that the party must handle it in such a way that the membership of the NASS inherits their own position on the leadership, assume ownership of that position and drive it as an internally generated position of the National Assembly. If it remains like an outside position whether by the ruling party or powers that be or whatever and that is coming form outside, the consequence would be instability.
On strategies to bring harmony between the Executive and the National Assembly, he said “quite a bit has change since I left the Senate, but when I was there, there was this regular engagement between the national assembly executive and the party in power in which very key legislations were considered and areas of disagreements harmonized before we went into the floor and the parties used to have caucuses, where these issues were discussed before the floor. I don’t know if that still happens.
“But there is need for this interface between the executive and the legislature. A strict application of the principle of separation of powers will take us nowhere. There should be some co-operation for the sake of driving our processes and the rest of it”.